Amarnath Yatra attack: LeT behind the terror strike, says Jammu and Kashmir police
Kashmir’s Inspector General of Police Munir Khan said the attack was masterminded by Pakistani militant Ismail.
The Jammu and Kashmir police have said that Monday’s terror attack on Amarnath Yatra pilgrims in Anantnag district was carried out by the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant organisation. At least seven people were killed when suspected militants attacked a bus that came from Gujarat.
“The attack on Amaranth Yatra pilgrims was carried out by the LeT, and masterminded by Pakistani militant Ismail,” Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Munir Khan to ANI. On Monday, the Jammu and Kashmir police had claimed to have busted a LeT module in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district and had apprehended a suspected aide of LeT commander Bashir Lashkari, who was killed on July 1.
Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh said the deceased and the injured will first be shifted to Srinagar on Tuesday, PTI reported. Later, the injured will be airlifted to the national Capital in a special Border Security Force aircraft. “The yatra will not be disrupted and it will continue as per the plans tomorrow,” Singh said.
Home ministry and J&K Cabinet meetings
A high-level meeting was called at Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s residence on Monday morning. Intelligence Bureau Director Rajiv Jain, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Research and Analysis Wing chief Anil Dhasmana, Home Secretary-designate Rajiv Gauba are present at the meeting that is underway.
MHA officials including Minister of State for Home, Hansraj Ahir, and Joint Secretary Gyaneshwar Kumar are scheduled to visit Srinagar on Tuesday.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minster Mehbooba Mufti called for a Cabinet meeting on Monday, in view of the attack, ANI reported. Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra and the chairman of Amarnath Shrine Board have also called for a high-level security meeting at Raj Bhawan in Srinagar, India Today reported.
Despite Monday’s terror attack, a fresh batch of 3,289 Amarnath pilgrims left on Tuesday morning from the Yatri Nivas base in Jammu for the cave shrine, Hindustan Times reported. The convoy of 105 vehicles left from the camp at 3.07 am.
In light of the attack in Jammu, the Uttar Pradesh government has heightened security for the pilgrims who depart on the Kanwar Yatra on Tuesday. The Delhi Police special cell has issued an advisory to put proper anti-terror arrangements in place at places of high footfall ahead of the Kanwar Yatra, ANI reported.
Shutdown in Jammu
Several organisations including the Bajrang Dal, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the National Conference and the Jammu Kashmir National Panthers Party, have called for a bandh in the state on Tuesday, The Indian Express reported.
The chamber of commerce urged people to turn up for the yatra in large numbers to give a “befitting reply” to militants. The president of the organisation, Rakesh Gupta, appealed to the people to maintain peace during the bandh.
The militants first opened fire at a bullet-proof police bunker in Botengoo village in Anantnag district. When security forces retaliated, the militants fled and then attacked a police picket near Khannabal.
Following this, the Gujarat bus came under attack in which seven pilgrims were killed – five were from Gujarat and two were from Maharashtra, India Today reported. The bus was not registered with the Amarnath Shrine Board, nor was it a part of a pilgrim convoy, the Central Reserve Police Force said.
The bus had violated 7 pm highway curfew imposed for Amarnath pilgrims, India Today reported quoting unidentified officials. Security cover for the yatra is withdrawn after 7 pm.
Internet services have been suspended in Jammu and Kashmir following the attack. The deputy chief minister has ordered an investigation into how the bus was allowed to proceed after curfew was in place.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack on Monday night and said India will not be “bogged down by such cowardly attacks”. President Pranab Mukherjee said, “Strongly condemn attack on Amarnath Yatris in Jammu & Kashmir, grieve the loss of innocent lives.”
Mufti said the head of every Kashmiri “hangs in shame” over the incident. “Pilgrims come to Kashmir every year for the yatra despite all the difficulties,” she said while speaking to the media after meeting the injured. “...I hope the security forces and the Jammu and Kashmir police arrest the perpetrators forthwith and take stern action against them.”
She further said the incident was a “blot” on all Kashmiris and Muslims. “We will not keep quiet till we bring the culprits to book.”
Offering condolences to the grieving families, Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said, “This incident should add to our determination to eliminate terrorism. Terrorist attack on Amarnath Yatra is the most reprehensible act.”
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi held the prime minster responsible for the security negligence. “This is a grave unacceptable security lapse. The PM needs to accept responsibility and never allow it to happen again,” he said on Twitter.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said his government was in contact with the Jammu and Kashmir government and military. Bharatiya Janata Party Chief Amit Shah called it a “barbaric act” and said those responsible for it will not be spared. “I have spoken to the BJP district president and MLC from Anantnag and our karyakartas in Kashmir to help the pilgrims in need,” he said.
In a statement released, National Democratic Alliance presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind also condemned the attack. “The attack on Amarnath yatris has caused me a lot of pain,” he said.
“Deeply saddened at loss of innocent lives. My thoughts and prayers are with bereaved family members and those injured,” Opposition’s presidential candidate Meira Kumar said in a statement.